When most of us speak about baseball cards we are referring to the cardboard collectibles containing photos and stats of MLB’s players. Some have come with tobacco. Some have come with candy. Many were sold with bubble gum.
And some were actually cards to be used in a game.
In 1968 the Topps company issued an insert set of “game cards” that could actually be used to play a type of baseball game. Each card had a player portrait on it, and they are still sought after collectibles today. But the idea of a baseball card “card game” was not original with that late 60’s set.
Throughout baseball history there have been various types of table-top and card-based games to resemble baseball. One of the early examples is the game that included the 1936 S & S Game Baseball Cards.
Each card in this “game” set measures 2-1/4” by 3-1/2” with rounded corners reminiscent to a deck of cards. Black-and-white player images are centered, horizontally, on every card with his name, team, position and biographical statistics below the photograph. On either side of the photos are two plays of the game and/or games directives printed in black. The backs of this unnumbered set are printed in a solid green (as seen in the picture) or cream color.
But the 52 cards in this set were originally issued as part of a board game, called “The National Game”, manufactured by the S & S Company of Chicago. The game was issued in two different size boxes (with different size pieces) although the cards were always the same. Included in the game set are a scoreboard card, a contest card and two additional cards, containing directions on how the game is played. Those cards are not considered part of the standard “set.”
The 1936 S & S Game Baseball Card Set was loaded with the stars of its time, and it contains 19 members of the Hall-of-Fame, including: Luke Appling, Bill Dickey, Jimmy Foxx, Frankie Frisch, Charlie Gehringer, Carl Hubbell, Chuck Klein, Mel Ott, and the Waner brothers, Lloyd and Paul.
Labeled WG8 in the American Card Catalog, the images used on the cards in the set are the same images found on the much rarer Home Run Candy Bar set that was also issued in 1936.